I have far too much anger to deal with the shooting yesterday in Oregon, Reader. My opinions of a few weeks ago are still true, and I totally agree with President Obama’s assertion that we are getting used to this and that ought to scare us into actually doing something about the violence in our country. (I also agree with the snarky frustration of this article about why “doing something” isn’t as impossible as we make it.)
So instead, I’m going to tell you about cats, which is what a friend of mine insisted to me this week the Internet is made for. Specifically, I’m going to tell you about pretty much my favorite thing ever, which is the mashing together of Internet cats and the Bible.
Roundabouts a decade ago, some folks came together and decided that captioning animals—specifically cats—could lead to hilarious things. It would be even funnier, they figured, if the voices of said cats were typed in terrible grammar and spelling, and lo, I Can Has Cheezburger was born. A few years later, somebody decided it would be funnier still if these cats “translated” the Bible for themselves, and lo, the LOLCat Bible was born.
Srsly. People have gotten together to “translate” the whole of the Bible into poorly-written Internet-speak. And it’s awesome. For starters, the whole concept just makes me nerd out like whoa; this kind of crowd-sourcing is becoming commonplace, but to take Internet surfers and unleash them on a holy text? Why yes, I do have two or three papers in my head that I want to write about that.
Then this book came out, which is not the whole Bible but excerpts, which is roughly like the old Middle English pageants and yes, that’s a whole other paper I want to write. The thing about this book is that it’s a lot of in-jokes geared toward people who are familiar with the I Can Has Cheezburger world, taking Biblical stories and using them to reference things like the LOLrus and his bukkit as well as renaming the Trinity Ceiling Cat, Happy Cat, and Hover Cat. The book version assumes you’ll be able to roll with the language, but the online version does offer a tutorial.
Here’s what I love about this book (besides the fact that it’s silly as all get-out): it really truly engages the text. In Genesis 37 when Joseph’s brothers are super angry that Joseph is telling them about his dreams in which they serve him (and what sibling wouldn’t be?), the LOLcats say it like this:
“WTF yu ben smokin? Yu think yu be king or sumthin? Yu thinkz yu is teh bosscat ov us?”
And the oh-so-iconic 23rd Psalm?
Ceiling Cat is mai sheperd. He gif me evrithing Iz need. He letz me sleeps in teh sunni spot an has liek nice watterz ovar thar. He maek mai soul happeh an maek sure Iz go teh riet wai for him. Liek thru teh cat flap insted of owt teh open windo, LOL. Iz in teh vally of dogz, fearin no pooch, becuz Ceiling Cat iz besied me rubbin mah ears, an it maek me so kumfy. He letz me sit at teh tabul evun wen peepul who no liek me iz watchin. He gifs me a flea baff an so much gooshy fud it runz out ov mai bowl, LOL. Niec tings an luck wil chase me evriday an Iz will liv in teh Ceiling Cats howse forevur.
That’s pretty accurate, really. And the book includes the Crucifixion (“Teh Death ov Happy Cat”) as well as several of Christ’s parables, which is pretty impressive.
It’s not a theological tome, it’s not even really theologically sound, but that’s not the point. We look so often at the Bible and see The Bible, this crazy untouchable book we can’t mess with. But it was never that; it’s a living document written by a bunch of common men over a long period of time in pursuit of telling a story that mattered so incredibly much. This engagement with that, this gentle prodding at the ideas of this text and how it phrases things is such a fascinating thing to me. It gets even better with the fact that there’s a “translation” of the Lord’s Prayer, Amazing Grace, and even Pascal’s Wager in the back of this (with more things like the Apostles’ Creed on the site). I mean, check this out:
Teh Ceiling Cat of us, whu haz cheezeburger, yu be spechul. Yu ordered cheezburgerz, Wut yu want, yu gets, srsly. In ceiling and on teh flor.
Giv us dis day our dalee cheezburger. And furgiv us for makin yu a cookie, but eateding it. And we furgiv kittehs who be steelin our bukkits.
An do not let us leed into teh showa, but deliver us from teh wawter. Ceiling Cat pwns all. He pwns teh ceiling and teh floor and walls too. Forevur and evuhr. Amen.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s also super entertaining, especially since the book includes color photos of some of the verses captioned onto various cats.